Caveat Emptor at Doncaster, Daily Racing Form, 1923-04-18


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Caveat Emptor at Doncaster , 1 B s - f j f - - ,t by J" " e Eof _ e , I- y 1, le on ,n !t le y ij a a .. ,. y. -a m p ■ F. p. the ie is m Bt n- id n- e. ty BY SALVATOB. un dii American turfmen have, many of them. nQ no been considerably interested in the latest I Q colt • cause celebre" in British thoroughbred af- j-u fairs— the suit brought against Lady Mark no not Sykes of the Sledmere Stud hy .lames White . for damages in connection with the sale by . the defendant to the plaintiff at the Don-caster way auctions of lfM of the yearling colt Noblesse Oblige. Only sketchy details have, of . however, appeared in the American press, so something more definite may not come • amiss. up The price paid by the plaintiff for the ay colt in question was 10.S00 guineas approxi- ,h the mately 4,000, which is reported to be a= the fourth highest ever given for a yearling thoroughbred, the record being 14.000 guineas ™ approximately 0,000. Sired by The Tet- rarch, whose yearlings for several seasons Of have been the most sought after in Kngland. Noblesse Oblige then yet unnamed, was ! ?r in the star of the fall sales season at Doncaster in 1920. His appearance in the sale ring . °r on had much to do with the price he brought, he , he u being considered one of the best looking colts I ever offered there. The plaintiff, in his suit. to t0 alleged, however, that as the colt was fat at pi that time a serious defect was not visible and I n in did not become so until later on. when train- j !• ing and a decrease in adipose tissue revealed 1 ■ it. o DKF1XT IMPAIRED RACING QO Al.ITIES. • fej hit This defect, the basis of the suit, was 5 " for nothing less than that familiarly known as 5 I i » "a hip down." So seriously did it impair the ! j | • of colts racing qualities, the plaintiff declared, I I w that he proved worthless for turf purposes. The best showing he was able to make was 3 on one occasion to run second in a race in i which there were but two starters. Other- - v wise his efforts were absolute failures. This, . j I »j the plaintiff and his trainer contended, also 5 a other witnesses, was due to the defect men- - ! h tioned, concealed at the time of the sale and 1 j j « one which, had he been aware of it at the J ! jr in time, would certainly have stopped him from I I i a desiring to own the colt at any price. i j ft In rebuttal, the defendants "star witness" was H. A. Cholmondely. for twenty years s [| It past the manager of the Sledmere Stud. He e t to testifWl that the noted race horse Hapsburg. .". t to also bred at Sledmere. winner of the Kclipse p Stakes anil other valuable events, worth in n i s. the aggregate over £14,000, had also had rt n a hip knocked down as a foal hut that the tj injury had not affected his racing qualities. • t. CASE OF HAPSBlRt;. v h His testimony on this point ran as fol- - c lows : 0 "About ten years ago they had at the e 1-stud a yearling ailed Hapsburg. which in- - a jured a hip. It was given no special treat- - o of ment but was rubbed with oils and sold at t b the sales. It turned out to be one of the g best winners of its year. When he noticed that Noblesse Oblige had injured his hip: j he had it rubbed, hut paid no particular r attention to it. The injury appeared pre-! " ,j cisely the same as Hapsburgs." a Mr. Cholmondely further testified that the ° t] Sledmere Stud enjoyed "a high reputation ■ ] j for frank and open dealings. It was their r j I e praetice to mention any defect that could d ] not be seen "by the purchaser, otherwise the e h purehaser had to take his chance." _. For the plaintiff, Donoghue, the celebrated d i c. jockey, testified that when riding Noblesse ,p | I Oblige, he had noticed that the injured hip I f to pereeptihly interfered with his action, while ° 3 veterinarians gave evidence to the same le ,, effect. After hearing all the testimony, the magis-L, trate who presided, Mr. Justice Lusk, gave ° a a verdict for the defendant, in the follow- t ing interesting terms: If ! "The action is not maintainable and must st i j fail. The plaintiff has not suggested that | | j any expressed warranty was given him. He !c j has not suggested that even an innocent II | misrepresentation was ever made by either ?r 1 | Lady Sykes or her agent. His complaint 11 N i is that he proceeded upon the basis that Lady Iv I Sykes" reputation in the sale of yearlings PJ was so high that he relied upon that fact ct as supporting his claim to a warranty. CORRESPONDED WITH DESCRIPTION. "It was a sale by description, but the colt u clearly corresponded with the description in the catalog. Kverything that was said about e" it in the catalog was truthfully said. More- j over, there was nothing in the circumstances *• | to show that the plaintiff had relied, upon ! j , the skill and judgment of Lady Sykes. Any- I | body who had experience of horses must El have seen the dropped hip. Mr. Hartigan. n, who acted for the plaintiff at the sale, must st have seen the defect. One could not help lp . feeling sorry for the plaintiffs disappoint-,_ ment, but it was the sort of disappointment nt which peoph who bought yearlings must St suffer from time to time. "Lady Sykes has done nothing from beginning to end which exposes her to liability ty | any kind." | It is probable that, owing to the prominence li- of the parties involved, both human in I I and equine, the judgment rendered in this ,is I ,. ease will establsh a precedent in British affairs : and this being so. as Americans are , Ie| i j constantly buying yearlings at the great Kng- - B" Hafa sales, they will do well to "paste it in1 in their hats." It must be confessed that the ethics of of British anctiona and judicial decisions there-.e .e. upon do not emerge in exactly a glorious us liht as revealed by the facts above set forth. We may assume that Lady Sykes personally 13 M" may have known little or nothing about the l- condition of Noblesse Oblige. But we may av also be certain that Mr. Cholmondely — why by not call him Chuniley and be done with it. • — is a very astute person indeed and that l„ in the sale of the colt to the unsuspecting ng James White he "put over" a neat thing. ° in a decidedly questionable manner. It all ".simmers down" to ibis: While the , ; ancient warning. "Caveat emptor!" should •W gui.b- :,ii purchaser! of horses and particularly ■U- I yearling! at auction, would any high-minded [b-l or really ■portsmanllhe consignor |or j I stand by and see another sportsman p:ly , , ] what in former times would have approached ; a king-! ransom for a colt that had a bip lip down the said injury l -ing manifestly bn-l ni" | perceptible to the purchaser, though per-ia BT- fectly well known to the consignor. The he plaintiff represented, by his witnesses, that i;it I owing to the immaturity of Noblesse Oblige j,.. * at the time of sale and that fact that he was ., fat when led into the ring it was impossible "* to discern the injury which he had sustained, ed. but that its effects quickly developed when __ he was placed in training and asked to raec. The defense so successfully made, which leh un dii nQ no I Q colt j-u no not . . way . of • up ay ,h the a= ™ Of ! ?r in . °r on , he u I to t0 pi I n in j !• 1 ■ o • fej hit " for 5 5 I i » ! j • of | I I w 3 i - v . j I »j 5 a - ! h 1 j j « ! J jr in I I i a i j ft s [| It e t to .". t to p n i s. rt n tj • t. v h - c 0 e - a - o of at t b g hip: j r " ,j a ° t] ■ ] j r j I e d ] e h _. d i c. ,p | I I f to ° 3 le ,, ° a t If ! st i j | | j He !c j II | ?r 1 | 11 N i Iv I unquestionably must have influenced the verdict, was that such an injury was really of account, as it had not prevented another bred at Sledmere from racing success-I fully. But such analogies are not and should be in any way final. Many horses in-| jured or crippled in various ways have raced | with distinguished success: but that in no, , invalidates the argument that no man compos mentis would think for a moment | ! paying 10.S00 guineas for a blemished yearling — as Noblesse Oblige undoubtedly was. The blemish had been skillfully covered j i and the buyer and his agents were un- i aware of it until too late. In the final audit ; justices verdict, moreover, was like unto adding insult to injury. "I am sorry for the plaintiffs disappointment." said, in effect. Mr. Justice Lusk. "but really, he and his agent were boobs." course, he did not use that inelegant expression, recently said to have been current : the case of Iiggly Wiggly vs. Wall Street this side of the water. But that was what meant. There is. however, a deeper implication [ this judgment. It indicates that judicial opinion of auction sales of thoroughbreds j Kngland relegates them to a low ethical [ plane. To the "innocent bystander" there , was manifest trickery in the sale of Noblesse Oblige if the unfortunate Mr. White had ransacked the dictionary he could not have upon a more caustically ironic handle his 10.800 guinea cripple!. But Mr. Justice Lusk calmly assumes that to be part I the game and dismisses the tricky ones 5 with a clean bill of health. A SIPPOSITION. Let us suppose that Mr. Chumley. as an honest consignor would or should have, when the colt was led into the ring. Stepped forth and said: "Ladies anil gentlemen, this colt t has a hip down, though it is not just now r apparent. We do not think the injury will 1 any way affect his racing career, for r another colt which we told in this ring a t few years ago. Hapsburg. similarly injured, 1. won the Bcttpea Stakes and other rich events. i. is the wish of the Sledmere Stud, however, • misrepresent nothing, so I call attention these facts." Now. supposing Mr. Chumley had made p such a statement— the statement which a I man. or an establishment, of high reputa-e tion for frank and open dealings." as he claimed for Sledmere, should have made — would the son of The Tetrarch and Honora have been bid up to 10.S00 guineas and be- come the sensation of the sale. There is a. only one possible answer to this question. He certainly would not have. In all prob- ,. ability he would not have brought one-tenth 1, 10,800 guineas. For no man knowingly y buys a hipped yearling except off the bar-e •- gain counter. SILENCE IS GOLDEN. So Mr. Chumley kept still. Mr. White e didnt. He— or his agent— bid 10.800 guineas .s and got the colt. They soon discovered d that he was worthless for racing purposes. s. But Sledmere had the 10.800 guineas minus • commissions, and now Mr. Justice Lusk decides that it came by them in a strictly honorable way and may keep them till the e crack of doom, so far as British legality is ls concerned. All which is deeply instructive, especially * the American reader, most especially the j" American who has a fancy for buying British II yearlings at the Doncaster or other sales. s- When a nice fat one. with a "purple pedb-" gree" is led into the ring and what he reads ls about it in the catalog increases his en-- thusiasm, it would be well for him to ask a a few questions of the representative of the le highly honorable and frank and widely cele-u e_ brated stud that is putting it up for sale. e Particularly it may be well for him to ask .jj if it has any hips down. Otherwise, after r he has "unbelted" he may. like Mr. White e, suffer a cruel disappointment. m

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